Three men banned from fishing or holding a fishing licence after one of the “most significant sport fish violations” a veteran Fisheries officer has seen in 20 years were residents of Washington State.
Bradley Wogalmott, Geoffrey Hoover, and Jonathan Magee, plead guilty in Campbell River Provincial Court on Feb. 24 to numerous violations of Canada’s Fisheries Act. The Honourable Judge Crockett ordered significant penalties for the three men.
Wogalmott was fined $15,000 and prohibited from fishing or holding a fishing licence anywhere in Canada for 10 years. He was also ordered to forfeit all fishing equipment seized on the vessel being used, valued at over $6,000, and two outboard engines (300 hp and 25 hp Yamaha), valued at approximately $32,500. He was also ordered to pay the storage and transport fees for the seized vessel, with an estimated cost of approximately $10,000.
Hoover was fined $5,000, received a two-year prohibition against fishing or holding a fishing licence anywhere in Canada, and forfeited all of his fishing equipment that was seized as evidence.
Magee was also fined $5,000, received a one-year prohibition against fishing or holding a fishing licence anywhere in Canada, and forfeited all of his fishing equipment seized.
The charges stem from a joint DFO and RCMP investigation in Gold River on Sept. 11, 2019. Nootka Sound RCMP received information that the three United States residents may have contravened the Fisheries Act while fishing in the area. RCMP officers stopped the men, who were found in possession of a significant number of fish that were not caught, or correctly recorded, according to the conditions of their recreational licence. DFO Conservation and Protection fishery officers from Campbell River were called in to take over the investigation.
Fishery Officer Greg Askey, Field Supervisor with the Campbell River DFO C&P Detachment, said that this was “the most significant sport fish violation I have seen in my over 20-year career.”
Former Nootka Sound RCMP Detachment Commander, S/Sgt Joshua Wiese said, “This investigation highlights the important role our local community members, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and Nootka Sound RCMP play in protecting the resources of the Nootka Sound.”
Fisheries and Oceans Canada has a mandate to protect and conserve marine resources and to prosecute offenders under the Fisheries Act. It ensures and promotes compliance with the Act and other laws and regulations through a combination of land, air, and sea patrols, as well as education and awareness activities.
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As part of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s work to end illegal activity, the department asks the public for information on activities of this nature or any contravention of the Fisheries Act and regulations. Anyone with information can call the toll-free violation reporting line at 1-800-465-4336, or email the details to DFO.ORR-ONS.MPO@dfo-mpo.gc.ca.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada works closely with the RCMP, other government agencies, community groups, and the general public, to ensure compliance with fisheries regulations.
Fishery officers determined that not all of the anglers had valid fishing licences, that the catch was not accurately recorded, and that the fish had been processed in such a way that the species and size was difficult to determine.
Fishery officers seized a 30 foot Cutwater fishing vessel, 26 Chinook salmon, ling cod, and rockfish, as well as a significant quantity of fishing gear found on the vessel.
The significant fines, fees and prohibitions, plus the forfeiture of the engines, fishing gear and illegal catch underscores the seriousness of violating fishing rules and regulations under Canada’s Fisheries Act intended to protect and preserve at-risk fish populations.